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New students get information from the various booths at the UNM Discover Fair on day two of New Student Orientation, Friday, June 16 2023. 

New students find the importance of connections at NSO

 First-year students at the University of New Mexico embark on New Student Orientation. In a two-day event that occurs every week this summer, students will register for classes, explore and spend the night on campus.

NSO is organized by Director of Student Services, José Villar, who has run the program since 2019. Of the new students coming to UNM, Villar said about 18% - 20% are from out-of-state.

“We have 11 orientations throughout the summer (with) about 350 (students) per orientation,” Villar said.

NSO is available both in-person and virtually. The virtual option, “NSO-To Go,” is for students who are unable to attend the in-person event. There is a $200 orientation fee for those who attend in-person and a $110 fee for virtual participants, according to the NSO webpage.

The Discover Fair held during the event lets new students explore booths that can provide information on student-run organizations within UNM. Leaf Alstone, one of 33 student Orientation Leaders, said that a benefit of the fair is to give students the opportunity to learn about different resources available at UNM.

“It’s important for students to be aware of Student Health and Counseling, LGBTQ+ Resource Center and the Women’s Resource Center,” Alstone said.

The fair is intended to help students connect with different organizations and resources before arriving on campus this fall, Villar said.

“(NSO is) helping students find that connection, so when they come to campus, they have a resource that they can lean on,” Villar said.

Attending NSO is a good way of getting to know campus and the dorm life, Alstone said. She recommends that first-year college students get familiar with what it’s like walking around the campus.

New student, Quentin Schlarb, spoke on their experience at NSO. The most beneficial part of the program, Schlarb said, was meeting academic advisors and orientation leaders to understand how to register for classes.

”The time we are here is nice because it lets you meet people, build a bond (and) build experiences,” Schlarb said.

Three new students, Quentin Schlarb, Aly Baca and Kaylea Watchman, reported an overall positive experience at NSO, but they also thought the program could improve. One aspect that needed growth was better communication amongst NSO leaders and staff, Alstone said.

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“I think a lot of the more relevant information could probably be compressed,” Schlarb said.

NSO works towards making a beneficial experience for students, but had no current plans for change, Villar said.

“We are always in the business of trying to create a better experience for our students, and hearing the feedback from the students (and) orientation leaders to implement new tools to help students with their transition to the university,” Villar.

The next available date to register for the in-person NSO is Thursday, July 20 2023-Friday, July 21 2023. Registration for NSO is on a first come, first served basis.

Sydney Walker is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at 

Sydney Walker

Sydney Walker is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @squidneywrites. 

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